An All Too Brief Summer Vacation Part 1: Background, History and an Overview

Sometimes it's good to do nothing.  With rain which has stopped but clouds that threaten sitting on the South Porch at Skytop is a good place to do nothing.  While I sit here and hand write (something that I haven't done in ages, but I refused to bring a laptop with me) the lady to my right sketches and a boy/man (not sure of the age so) to my left reads and texts.  My son, who is wearing his Panama hat went for his 2nd walk in the rain (sans trench coat...I may have complained when he purchased it at the vintage clothing store in town but he's gotten his money's worth by wearing it consistently and with the rain forecast for this weekend he probably won't take it off).  The sun peaks out and the rain pitters on the awning.  The bees buss among the magnificent flowers (Something that has NEVER changed at Skytop, thankfully).  Even the dark storm clouds that somewhat obscure the mountains of the Poconos have a certain beauty to them.


Let me stop there and give some background information.  I'm a big believer in family vacations.  We all need to rest, recharge and get away from the day to day stresses.  (Hence I did not bring a laptop with me this past weekend while we were getting away.  I could still be social and check personal email and share photos with my phone, but there was NO checking in at work.  And I tried to limit myself when it came to personal email and postings.)  I WISH I could do big family vacation more than once a year.  But that's just not financially responsible or feasible. The last really big vacation we did was our week+ trip to WDW in 2016.  I had planned for that for years and even then we couldn't do exactly what I wanted to do.  (I would have LOVED to have stayed club level at the Poly for our whole trek, but that was out of our budget, but a partial did work...sort of.)  We had planned a 5 day trek to Cape Cod in June, but as you may that didn't happen (

I did need some sort of vacation.  I am lucky enough to work for a company that gives a reasonable amount of vacation time and I don't want to squander it away!  If you've got a company that is good enough to provide the time, which I do, I NEED to figure out a way to make it work  So while I had taken a few days off in July (modifying the vacation time I'd originally scheduled and whittling it down from 5 days to 3), it was a staycation.  Staycations are great, but I really do think you need to get away from it all and get in that vacation mindset.  Even if getting away from it all is not that far from home.

Skytop  is only about 90 minutes away from my front door, but it entering the gateway is entering a different mindset.  While now ensconced in the modern age (it wasn't always) with the applicable technology, I'd encourage visitors to try and forget about that and let yourself be transported back to a slower paced era.

A (hopefully) brief history to give an idea of how Skytop manages to keep one foot in the past and the other in the present while preparing for the future as told Bfth style:  Conceived in the 1920s during the economic boom, Skytop opened in June 1928.  The resort survived the depression and prohibition (I've heard stories about getting around that one) and always offered plenty of activities.  Under the management of Sam Packer (who sounds like he could be a social media darling if he were around today; the man KNEW how to use PR), the club thrived not just by word of mouth but with numerous articles in the NYC and Philadelphia papers with tales of tournaments and competitions (golf, tennis and DOG SLEDDING to name but a few).  Going to the Poconos for the clean air was certainly the thing to do before and after WWII.  Times changed, Skytop did so too, SLOWLY.  (Hey there were no in room televisions until the LATE 1980s!)  I'm sure there was a lot of struggling to keep up with the times and yet remain true their roots. To be honest, I am sure there were times when they stumbled and things did not work out so well.  But in 2018 they are still going strong and from what I've seen under the general management of Jeff Rudder, they have managed to make some necessary changes and yet maintain the integrity of the resort. (For more details on the resort history, I'd direct you to Frederic W. Smith's Skytop An Adventure as well as Images of America Skytop Lodge by Claire Gierwatowski on behalf of Skytop Lodge.)

Full disclosure, I am a stockholder in Skytop Lodge Corp and my first official visit to the resort was when I was 6 months old.  In many ways, the resort feels like home to me. Albeit, a home where I don't have to cook or clean or do anything that I don't want to.

As a result of my age and coming here not annually, but regularly (I can say I have visited the resort at least once every decade since my birth) I have seen changes that I like such as the outdoor pool which didn't make its appearance until the late 1980s.   While I love the indoor pool (which was added before I was born in the early 1960s), the addition of the outdoor allows you to enjoy the best of both worlds.  (Although I have to say there's nothing like a swim in the indoor pool during a winter day, especially after I've tried ice skating at the pavilion and need some time in the hot tub to recover.)  There was also the renovation/redo of the clubhouse into the Lakeside Inn.  Although I was reluctant to stay there when we visited in late autumn one year, I was charmed by the larger sized rooms (Lodge rooms are 1920s sized) and the in room fireplaces that are perfect for cool/cold days/evenings.  The downside was the walk to the Lodge for meals (although there is the Lakeside Restaurant for dinner which I am told I MUST try), but then I discovered there was a shuttle that could take you back and forth as needed.  Of course a brisk walk up to the lodge for breakfast is a good thing, especially when I consider all the calories I'm going to take in.

More recently, the entire lodge had an interior redo from guest rooms to the pine room (the large lobby area).  Although I do miss the old "real" keys (yes, I am showing my age here!) what
I admire about the updates is that while new, the original intent and "flavor" still exists.  So while the South Card room, which was underutilized morphed into bathrooms, the design stayed true to the area.  The Library which no one ever seemed to visit (except for me) unless a special event was being held in the space was converted into the Library Lounge, a bar that still has the built in bookshelves where you can grab a book to read (Except for the shelves behind the bar which now house bottles) while you sit and enjoy your cocktail (The tiramisu is perfect for after dinner sipping.)  The North Card room still exists as an extension of the Library Lounge and the walls are covered in photographic history.  (Actually the whole lodge is!  On a rainy day walk the floors slowly and take in the photos that adorn each and every hallway wall.  I KNOW I'm not the only one who does this...plenty of people were talking about the incredible photos from the 1920s and 30s eras.)  The old non-ADA compliant ladies room by the front desk has been converted into the Corner Roast and if I didn't know better I would have sworn it had always been there.  (An afternoon cappuccino is now a must for me, although my son prefers to wait until 4 when tea and cookies are served in the Pine Room.)  On the lower level, the much loved Tap Room has been expanded and I hear rumors that the Tea Room (which doesn't serve tea, but is a great place for a sandwich or even better, a sweet treat) will be undergoing some changes as well.  (I can't wait to see!)

The one change I DON'T like (and here I'm showing my "old lady" side) is the change in the dress code for dinner at both the Windsor Dining Room (Lodge) and Lakeview Restaurant (Lakeview Inn).  Times have changed, I know but I LIKED that "Gentlemen" had to wear a jacket (a tie was optional) to dinner.  The resort website now proclaims:  The dress code for The Windsor Dining Room/Lakeview Restaurant is resort casual. Dark denim and dress shorts are permitted.  Jackets and ties are optional. We ask that you please wear appropriate footwear and be advised that children over the age of 12 must adhere to the dress code. Please refrain from wearing: hats, t-shirts, tank tops for Gentlemen and torn/faded denim.  I understand WHY the change had to be made, but BOO HISS!  And I'm not the only one who feels that way.  My 1940s era son brought 3 suits, 3 hats (Fedoras and Panama) and would not think of wearing jeans here. 

In spite of all the changes (good and bad), there is still the old world feel that carries from 1928 to 2018. I encourage anyone who visits to make a conscious effort to enjoy and respect that.  It's the very best way to experience the resort.  (The only way in my book!)  To me the joy of Skytop is to indulge yourself in the simplicity of an earlier time.

Now that I've indulged myself with the history and my background of this beloved resort, it's time to take a blog break and then move onto Part 2:  The Actual Vacation!


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